A wise man once mused “If only you could talk to the monsters” – in Underhero you can because you are one too, albeit low-level and underpaid. Unfortunately, if you want to get out of a fight (using a charming Paper Mario-inspired combat engine) in this parodic platform RPG hybrid, you’ll have to bribe your way past your peers. Life is hard at the bottom of the villainous hierarchy.
Developed by Paper Castle Games and released on Wednesday, Underhero is the tale of the expendable monster who slew the hero. This puts the masked protagonist in the awkward situation of both being the new chosen hero, and being tasked with returning the three Triviality Stones to their respective end-of-world bosses. Below, a launch trailer with puppets, and a free demo.
So far, I’ve only had a chance to play a bit of Underhero’s demo, but that was enough to convince me of its charms. While its script so far doesn’t seem as sharp as that other genre-skewering, monster-chattering RPG that begins with ‘Under’, it has so far been amusing and mechanically interesting stuff. Exploration plays out like a 2D platformer, with obstacles to dodge, secret areas to find and arbitrary floating coins to collect. Upon bumping into a (possibly) hostile monster, things get more complicated, as movement stops and a combat HUD pops up.
Underhero’s combat draws most inspiration from the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi RPGs, with the twist that it’s not turn-based. Enemy attacks can be dodged (either jumped, ducked or otherwise interrupted) in real time, and your own attacks drain a recharging stamina bar that refills faster after a successful evasion. You also do bonus damage for landing hits in time to the music, made easier (and more accessible to the hard-of-hearing) by a handy on-screen beat indicator. Plus, you can always bribe your way past – no monster is getting paid enough to die here.